Legal Nigeria

“Democracy doesn’t have to be this expensive” – Obanikoro

Former Minister of State for Defence, Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro, has urged a review of the Senate and House of Representatives’ budgets to reduce governance costs.

In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos, in commemoration of Nigeria’s Democracy Day, Obanikoro emphasized that democracy need not be so expensive.

He stated that in the United States, lawmakers do not receive housing accommodations and rely mainly on their salaries and minimal fringe benefits.

“Democracy doesn’t have to be this expensive, that is one thing we don’t get right.

“It is expensive because we have made it so. Let me give you a good example because we borrowed this system from America.

“In America, they don’t provide accommodation for lawmakers, they fend for themselves when it comes to that, they live basically on salary and very small fringe benefits.”

Obanikoro advocated for transparency in the National Assembly’s budget, allowing public access to budget allocations for each member.

He suggested that such transparency could prevent calls for switching to a parliamentary system, as it would reduce unnecessary budgetary provisions and make the legislature more cost-effective.

“When the budget is more transparent, and people can go online and see what is allocated to every member of the National Assembly and can also input into the process, I do believe that will make the process or the institution less expensive.”

Reflecting on Nigeria’s 25 years of uninterrupted democracy, Obanikoro stated that the country had made huge progress and stressed the importance of continuously improving the democratic process.

He called for a more credible electoral system, which he believes is crucial for reducing election-related litigations and enhancing the legitimacy of the electoral process.

Regarding the commemoration of Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale (MKO) Abiola, the 1993 Presidential Election winner, Obanikoro acknowledged the government’s efforts to honour Abiola’s contributions to democracy but suggested more could be done.

He proposed naming more democratic institutions and landmark buildings across Nigeria after Abiola to ensure his legacy is visible nationwide.

Source: NAN